Part I: Patrick Laird will make you think
There's nothing he loves more than rifling through a book. A quest for knowledge makes this running back one of the NFL's most curious players. On his rise, the power of reading and... free will?
TAMPA, Fla. — Our search for conversations with stimulating minds in pro football naturally leads us here, to Cigar City Brewing, where the Jai Alai flows.
Usually, it’s a book in Patrick Laird’s hands.
Back at the University of California, the running back launched a summer reading program for kids. On to the NFL, he loves sharing book recommendations. All a stark departure from how most pro athletes use social media. Laird always seemed like an exceptionally bright guy so — while in Florida for features you’ll read over the coming weeks — I thought it’d be a swell idea to link up with Laird at one of the nation’s finest breweries to drink some IPAs and talk football, life, see where things go.
After rushing for 1,127 and 961 yards his two seasons as Cal’s top back, Laird latched on as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins in 2019 where he became a fantasy football cult hero and spent three seasons. Last season, he stuck with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad. Now, it’s Year 5. Not bad for someone who began his first pro training camp as the seventh-string running back. Yet, Laird takes no credit for sticking around this long.
As you’ll read below, he has a unique opinion on the idea of free will… which leads to hearty debate.
Much was discussed over our hour and a half, so I’ll split this conversation up into two posts.
First up? How Laird forced Cal and the NFL to take notice, why reading is so important in today’s age of social-media addiction and, yes, the philosophy behind our place in the world.
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Where does the legend of Patrick Laird start? You ran for 3,000 yards your senior year of high school? I thought that was a typo.
Laird: Lucky or not, we just couldn’t figure out the passing game my senior year of high school so I ended up averaging like 29 carries per game. Which I enjoy. But we had to run the ball. We won a lot of games, too. We ended up in the section finals. The championship game. I was lightly recruited to small schools. My brother played at Cornell, so I always thought I’d go back east and play Ivy League football. And then I had that good senior year and my coaches said, “Do you want to play at a higher level?” I said, “Yes,” but I didn’t want to sacrifice the academics. So they sent film out to college coaches that they knew. And then Berkeley was like, “Yeah, we’ll give him a preferred walk-on spot.” I saw it was one of the best undergrad business programs in the country and I was like, “I’m going to Cal.” That was my decision.
So, you were really valuing the academics to that degree?
Laird: I wanted to play football but the only thing I was considering was how good of an academic program I could’ve gotten into. So UPenn, I wanted to go to Wharton, but UPenn didn’t want to recruit me. I started looking at Brown and Cornell, who have really good business programs. But those two were specialized programs whereas Berkeley — the Haas School of Business — was an all-encompassing business thing. Everybody studies finance, marketing, accounting, economics. You learn it all.
That’s still bizarre that someone who ran for 3,000 yards, even if it’s your senior year, was overlooked.
Laird: I played at a small high school. We had 320 kids. Around that number. We played a bunch of other small schools in California. And then being from the Central Coast, it’s a small-town area. The biggest city in the county is probably around 45,000, 50,000 people. So, it was hard to get colleges up there to recruit people. You go to LA or Orange County or the Bay Area, you can hit 10 high schools in one day. Down on the Central Coast, there might be 10 high schools and there might be one or two guys you hit in a day. It’s an efficiency thing.
There aren’t many dominant white running backs. You dominated in high school. You dominated in college — but it took a little bit. How did you even get a shot at Cal? You’re a guy who’s not getting attention and, all of a sudden, you’re a guy playing at a Power 5 school.
Laird: It was funny. They actually thought I was going to play fullback. So they saw me on the recruiting visit and said, “Do you want to play fullback?” It was the spread offense. It was after Jared Goff’s freshman year. I was one year behind him. They did the Air Raid with Sonny Dykes. They throw the ball a ton, but they also got into this two-tight end, one-fullback, one-running back formation and said, “Do you want to play that position?” I said, “Sure. I’ll come to Cal. Maybe I’ll play special teams.” I show up…
So, with football, you’re not thinking “This is my career…”
Laird: I loved football — I absolutely loved football—and I worked my ass off to get better at football every day, every week. So, I enjoyed that whole process. But I guess I sold myself short on how high my ceiling was. Maybe that was because I wasn’t highly recruited. The NFL was never in my thought process. I came in. There were three scholarship running backs in our class, and then me as the one fullback. I showed up for freshman summer workouts and I guess a lot of other guys didn’t show up in shape. So, our first conditioning session, all of the coaches are out there. Some of the upperclassmen are out there and I was beating everybody in the sprints. Every single rep, I was beating them. I came off the field and the offensive coordinator came up to me. He’s like, “Hey, sorry I don’t know your name.” I said, “Nice to meet you. I’m Patrick.” He said, “Can you come to my office tomorrow?” I had classes in the morning. I walk up to the stadium where the facility is. I walk into the conference room and my highlight video is up on the projector with all of the coaches sitting around the table. And then the offensive coordinator says, “Hey, come to my office.” We sit down and the first thing he says to me is, “Do you want to play running back here?” I was like, “Yeah. I do.” They moved me to running back. Actually, I redshirted my second year and moved to receiver and then moved back to running back my third year, my redshirt sophomore year. And I stayed at running back.
And then you were The Guy for two years. As you start tearing things up on the field, are you surprised yourself?
Laird: I don’t know if it was a surprise to me because I always thought I could do it. I made a bunch of plays in practice the years before but I was never high on the depth chart until I started playing. I didn’t start until the third game of the season my junior year. The first game of the season I was the third guy in the rotation. Had a couple pass plays designed for me. I scored a touchdown the first game in 2017 my redshirt junior year. The second game of the season, the starting running back goes down and I happen to get thrown in that drive. And I rushed for like close to 200 yards and a couple touchdowns. The third week of the season, we played Ole Miss and we always started out with the first team going out and doing a couple plays on air. No one said anything but I just ran out there with the first team. From then on, I was the starting running back. I was like, “I played well the last game. I should be the starting running back.” And I just ran out. No one announced anything.
I love how we all think football is super complicated with all these back-alley, dark-room meetings.
Laird: I ran out onto the field. The guy who was ahead of me on the depth chart just stood on the sideline and accepted it.
Why do you think he just stood there?
Laird: I don’t know. I never asked him about it.
Your love for reading. When did this start for you?
Laird: I’m really lucky. I have three older siblings and two younger siblings. Both of my parents are educated and stressed education growing up. My oldest sister was this huge reader growing up. So, I always saw her reading. And my older brother and my other older sister, I saw them reading. I had this weird memory when I was a kid, I would grab books off the shelf before I could even read and just pretend to be able to read chapter books.
Was there one book that inspired you at a young age? Because you’re at that age where it’s so easy to a.) become a mindless lemming doom-scrolling on whatever app or get sucked into a TV show.
Laird: I suffer from that, too.
Still, to be in this generation and emphasize sitting down, hitting pause on life and reading a book is rare.
Laird: When I was 13, my older siblings were in high school and they were assigned “Freakonomics,” the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. They had that book to read in high school and I’m 13 in seventh grade. I’m like, “I’m going to read this book.” So, I read it in a couple days. I remember finishing it and loving it so much that I went back to the beginning and started reading it again. I found it fascinating that, at 13, the way we view the world may not actually be what it seems. And there’s all this data we can look at and information — and if you process it in the right way — you can actually figure out why things are the way they are. I was always interested in business. I did the lemonade stands. I did this VHS-to-DVD conversion. I used to make highlight videos for people. I started a car-detailing business. I was always interested in business. “Freakonomics” introduced me to this idea that there’s this macro economy of all these different moving parts and things that play together and humans act a certain way because of psychology. Instead of living in my bubble of a life I started trying to have this bigger picture of how things work.
You wanted to push your brain into different areas.
Laird: I’m lucky that I was born with a curiosity. I think it’s luck that I’m curious about things and how they work so I like to read about it.
There’s not enough curiosity in the world. If you’re curious, I feel like you have an advantage at winning in life — football or otherwise. It sounds like you don’t even like reading about sports?
Laird: That’s the one genre I don’t really read. Sports. I tell people that Michael Lewis is one of my favorite authors but I never read any of his sports books. “Liar’s Poker” was really good. “The Fifth Risk” was really good. One of his newest books on Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman (“The Undoing Project”), they’re Israeli sociologists that did a bunch of research that founded the behavioral economics movement at the University of Chicago. Michael Lewis signed that book for me. He lives in Berkeley. So, when I was doing the summer reading challenge, I was doing all of these different promotions. I’d interview all these people and we’d post it on social media. Michael Lewis is one of the authors I had come to the stadium. He’s an awesome dude. His new book is coming out October 3rd on Sam Brankman-Fried and FTX. I’m so excited for that book.
Do you listen to books?
Laird: I do audiobooks. I subscribe to Scribd, which is similar to Audible but you can do unlimited books. I don’t know if the selection’s as vast but I just don’t like that Audible is only one book a month. I’m a hard copy guy. I collect books. I like to buy First Edition hard copies and I’m trying to build a collection. I’ll find books, read hard copy and, if it’s on Scribd, I’ll listen to it on the side if I’m working out or on a walk.
Do you consider it a mission to get people to read more? Learn more? Be more curious? Think beyond Twitter and Instagram?
Laird: I did the “Summer Reading Challenge” in college, and that was one of the goals. When you graduate from third grade, the fourth-grade teacher spends the first three weeks of the school year trying to get kids back up to their third-grade reading level. Most kids are behind. It’s like a muscle. If you don’t pick up a book for two months over summer, you lose that skill. I approached the Cal athletic department and said, “Hey, I have this idea to encourage kids over the summer to read. Maybe you can reward them with a free ticket to a game.” They’re like, “Yeah, we’ll do it. We’ll give out four free tickets.” It’s the gift and curse of going to Cal. There’s a couple extra seats in the stadium that are open so we can give away free tickets. It was a huge response. The Cal alumni loved it. The kids in the Bay Area loved it. I was lucky growing up where my parents and my older siblings encouraged reading so I always read over the summers. But a lot of kids aren’t fortunate in that sense. It’s a way to say, “I’m a football player. I do football. But reading in school is cool, too.” In whatever you want to do in life, if you want to be good at football, you’ve got to have some sort of mental aptitude. If you want to be a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, a fireman, you’ve got to be able to learn and process information. Reading is one of the core things you’ve got to be able to do in order to accomplish anything you want to do in life. So that was the message: It’s not just about being the smart nerd. Whatever you want to do, reading’s going to be important.
They’re still doing it, which is awesome. They relaunched it after Covid. There’s a kid now on the team that’s running it (Brian Driscoll).
I don’t know how we snap back to that as a society. We’re only going one direction where everything needs to be instantaneous — needing to be in the moment all the time — instead of, no, “we don’t know everything.” So that takes a suppression of ego. To learn. And then, time. To say, “I’m going to read for a half-hour. For a half-hour, I don’t need to look at my phone.” It’s hard for people to get to that point.
Laird: I meet a lot of people that are very smart but are like, “Yeah, I don’t have the time to read.” Or, “I don’t want to.” They’ll read articles and I spend a lot of time reading articles. I read the paper almost every day. I subscribe to The Wall Street Journal. I get that in print, which people think is weird, and then I have a New York Times subscription. I don’t read them all front to back. I love to digest information from that forum. The Wall Street Journal, on Saturdays, has their large sections where they’ll do longform essays and do deep dives into random parts of history. I love that. But you can only learn so much from a 2,000-word essay, where a book can really dive deep. When you invest time and digest a subject for two weeks or a month you get a breath of knowledge that you just cannot get from an article. There are people who are really smart who can recall all these little tidbits from articles they’ve learned but I feel like you’ve got to spend time with a subject to really get a deep knowledge. And then, it’s the Dunning–Kruger Effect. The more you learn about something, the less confident you are in what you know about it. I try to remember that whenever I’m explaining something: Here’s my opinion. Here’s what I think about it. But at the end of the day, I don’t really know. No one really knows. Because it’s impossible to have 100 percent concrete knowledge on anything. You alluded to this before but it’s having that humility about knowledge. You don’t really know what you don’t know. But there’s always that journey and process to learning more and more. I’m always trying to do that and encourage other people to do that. Humans are humans. There’s a reason everybody’s addicted to their phone. That’s in our biology, to be concentrated on what’s that next little dopamine hit. I don’t know how to come out of it because it’s so wired in our brains.
There’s something valuable about delayed gratification. Bring your family to dinner — no phones. Sit. Wait for your meal. Talk. And we’re just going this other direction as a society. What drew me to you, you’ve got views all over the place. That humility. Everybody’s on one end of the spectrum or the other and it’s not like only politics becomes sports. Life becomes sports. If you have an opinion about anything, it becomes F this person for having another opinion.
Laird: Or it’s the people who are most far apart that are most willing to say their strong opinion. A lot of times I don’t voice an opinion I have on Twitter because, one, I don’t think it’s going to be productive and, two, I don’t think people are going to engage in good faith. So, I hold my tongue and we start to have this perception of, “OK, everybody’s way extreme this way or way extreme that way.” If you talk to everybody at this bar, everybody’s probably going to agree on core fundamental ideas. But the normal people aren’t the ones spouting the normal opinion. It’s the crazies on both sides.
I have friends on all sides. When we sit down to have a beer, maybe we talk about our views. Maybe we don’t. But we’re not acting in real life like we would on Twitter. For whatever reason, it became vile and malicious.
Laird: The scary thing is to think about how good the algorithms are getting to tap into that psychology. Where we’re drawn to these combative, disagreeable takes. Kids with an iPhone at 10 years old have their brains developed from 10 to 21 years old viewing this information. I was lucky enough, I didn’t get a smart phone until my junior or senior year of high school. I didn’t download anything. I didn’t have Vine. I was against Snapchat for the longest time. I didn’t grow up with the crazy algorithms that fed my brain all these crazy things. I had Twitter when it was just a chronological timeline. All the crazy stuff wasn’t pushed to the top. I wonder what’s going to happen with younger kids. We see anxiety rates going through the roof. A lot of statistics with self-harm with young kids is crazy. We’re going to see in 10 to 15 years what happens.
It’s parenting then, right?
Laird: Even then, parents are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If your kid is the one kid without a phone, they can’t communicate with their friends. Then, you let them have a phone and you can’t really monitor everything that they’re doing. They’re going to want to be on the apps all their friends have. Do you force them into socialized isolation? Or do you throw them into the fire with all the crazy stuff they’re going to be exposed to online and hope you parent them well enough? I don’t know.
I have a three-year-old and a 1 1/2-year-old.
Laird: You have time. Someone’s going to figure it out.
What do we do as Dads in this world?
Laird: Lead by example. Hopefully. I shouldn’t give parenting advice. I have a dog. (laughs)
We do need more people like you valuing our brains and our own curiosity. That’s always been your weapon. In the NFL, are there many people who think like you? How has this helped you as a player?
Laird: There’s a lot of intelligent players in the NFL. Intelligence to me isn’t the linear IQ scale. To me, it’s a circle. Someone might be emotionally intelligent. Someone might be intelligent verbally. Some people may be intelligent when it comes to numbers and graphs. When something’s presented to me, I enjoy understanding the whole thing. I’ll ask questions or figure out the answers to my question so it will help me out. When a running back has a route on a play, sometimes people will memorize: “When I hear this concept, I have this route.” For whatever reason, I like to learn: “Why are we running a swing route instead of a flat route?” It’s something Chase Edmonds is really good at. We’ll be talking on the sideline. We actually had a conversation today about this, where a receiver had a certain route and we had a route off of that. We talked about, “We have it this way but would it better if we had it this way?” Having an understanding of how the whole play fits together, you learn the play, you learn the information and it sticks in your brain way better. So when a play is introduced, I’ll try to understand why it’s called or designed a certain way.
This is your fifth year. You’ve got physical attributes, but there’s something else getting you to the point at Cal where you’re running for 1,000 yards in back-to-back years and you make it in the NFL as an undrafted player — become a fantasy football legend — and you’re still playing.
Laird: It’s crazy to me. I think it helps that I really love playing football. I enjoy working. The Dolphins do this cool thing — they call it a Business Combine. When the actual NFL Combine is going on, all the guys can go to this thing called the “Business Combine.” A guy named Caleb Thornhill, the director of player engagement. He broke off and started his own company. He’s trying to do this for everybody in pro sports. There was a speaker who said, “Raise your hand if you want to work when football’s over.” I raised my hand. I enjoy working. I don’t know if I could sit around and collect money off of investment properties. I enjoy working at getting better at football. So that’s probably been the No. 1 thing that’s helped me stay in the NFL this long. The average lifespan of a running back is like 2.4 years. So technically, I’ve gone past that. A lot of it’s luck, too. Injuries. Opportunities.
When you were in Miami — that first training camp — were there seven running backs?
Laird: I was the seventh when I showed up. I told some rookies this yesterday, we were sitting at breakfast and I was sitting with my running backs coach. He was shooting the shit with the rookies. Talking about taking advantage of your opportunities. I shared that I came in as an undrafted running back. We had drafted a guy, Myles Gaskin. And in training camp — when you’re going out in the fire — the first- and second-string guys get the most reps. But they’ve got to throw in someone eventually because those guys can’t take every single rep. So, the running backs coach knew that I knew what I was doing because I studied hard and learned the playbook. So if he was unsure of, “I don’t know what the next play is,” he’d throw me in there. I just stole a couple extra reps because I knew what I was doing. And then a couple of those reps ended up being plays that I made and it changes the perception the coaches have of you. That’s what I shared with the rookies. You’ve got to build trust in the coaches. They only want to put in people they can trust.
How many plays really got you noticed, trust-wise?
Laird: It was just a couple plays. A couple of plays could’ve went a different way and maybe they don’t have that perception of me. And maybe I don’t make the team. And after my rookie year, maybe I don’t get another shot. So, it’s those really small moments. It’s what I said in 2017, when the starting running back went down at Cal, and I got thrown in there and had a couple long runs. If I didn’t get those long runs in that game, maybe I don’t have the successful season I do my junior year. I attribute so much in life to luck. I think a barometer of wisdom and being intelligent is attributing a lot of your success to luck. That’s a philosophical thing that I believe in.
These specific moments have been your tipping points, but you had to take advantage of it, too.
Laird: I think you have some agency over how things go. But most of it is environment, genetics, how you were raised leads you to a point where you either made the good or the bad decision. Maybe this is too philosophical. I got into a debate with my friends a couple weeks ago about this.
What was the debate?
Laird: Free will vs. no free will.
Circumstances are against a lot of people. But, at everybody’s core, you can do whatever you want. Especially in relation to other countries where that’s not true. I know that’s simplistic but I feel like free will overwhelms, “Oh, this thing just happened.”
Laird: I try not to use it as an excuse if something turns out bad — “it wasn’t in my hands.” I try to live life as if there is free will. But philosophically, I’m not sure it exists.
You could’ve told me: “Screw you, Tyler. I’m not going to meet you at Cigar City Brewing.” But free will brought you here. You don’t think people can take control of their own lives? Their own destiny? Make their own choices?
Laird: You know who Sam Harris is? He wrote a book about free will and argues that it’s a concept — as we perceive it — it’s not what we think it is. So the idea is, “I could have chosen otherwise.” But there’s no reason to think that you could’ve chosen otherwise based on the decision that you made and there’s all these things outside of your control that led up to the point where you perceive that you made the decision. Basically that we’re conscious beings — I can’t believe I’m getting into this — but basically we’re conscious beings observing our life as it happens and we believe that we’re the agents of our decisions. But, really, we’re not. But I don’t live my life thinking, “Oh, I can’t do anything else.” I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to do all of this stuff. I’m trying to self-actualize and become a better person and be a good pro and be a good teammate and be a good boyfriend. All that stuff. I think I’m consciously working toward that. But biologically, I don’t think deep down that I’m the one… you don’t have the choice to do it. That’s just what’s happening. Let me try a thought experiment with you. Think of a city in the United States in your head. I’ll say 3-2-1 and when I say 1, say the city. Three, two, one.
Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Laird: Do you think you could’ve said any other city besides Green Bay, Wisconsin if we could rewind the universe four seconds ago. That’s the idea of free will, the illusion of free will. Thinking you could’ve said anything but Green Bay. But in that moment, you said Green Bay. Is there a reason you think that you said Green Bay vs. any other city you could’ve thought of in the United States? Was it the first one that popped in your head?
Laird: Why do you think that popped in your head over anything else? Is it because you had mentioned the Packers earlier? But you also mentioned Buffalo earlier. If you had written on the Bills, why didn’t Buffalo pop in your head over Green Bay? Maybe you thought Green Bay, Buffalo popped in your head, and you stuck with Green Bay. What happened in your mind to arrive at Green Bay, Wisconsin?
But when you make a decision in life, don’t you sit and think and contemplate and debate internally and then make a decision: “I’m going to do this or that?”
Laird: Yeah, but I think deep down you don’t know why you end up making the decision that you made. A lot of people hear this and think, “OK, if I’m not really the decision-maker, then I’m not responsible for my own actions.” I disagree with that. You’re still responsible for whatever actions you end up doing.
You’re not going to the extreme of, “All this stuff’s happening. Nobody’s responsible. We’re all animals.”
Laird: There’s still an ethical reason why you should be punished and ridiculed for a bad decision. … Some people confuse a lack of free will with ethics. I don’t think that tracks.
If you believe in ethics, aren’t you making the decision to do good or bad?
Laird: Yeah, but the idea is that I’m a conscious being experiencing life. I experience what it’s like to be wronged or lied to or hurt. So, I understand that I’m experiencing this life and other people are also having a similar conscious experience. From there, you can use logic to extract that to all ethical or moral decisions. You might not arrive at the right one but if you recognize there’s other conscious beings experiencing the same life, then you should treat them with respect. You should want what’s best for them. Treat others the way you want to be treated is a Christian ideology.
Are you religious?
Laird: I went to Catholic school for 13 years, but I don’t practice religion. But definitely respectful of all religions and what people choose as long as they’re respectful. And most people who are religious are respectful of other people.
Because that’s part of the conversation, too.
Laird: I think most Christian ideals — if you were to develop a framework of ethics and morals — everything Jesus said was good advice to live by.
I’m not sure how we leave this topic. You tell me.
Laird: I’m not the best at explaining it. I make the argument fully realizing I could be wrong in the argument. I think that’s important.
Do you get into debates in the locker room?
Laird: Oh, I’ve thrown the debate out to a lot of people. And I do that same experiment with the city. Think about preferences. For the longest time I was a red wine drinker. I loved Cabs. One day, it was a little warmer and I had a Sauvignon Blanc. A white wine. And it was smooth. And I was like, “Dang, do I like Sauvignon Blanc better than red wine? Why at one point in my life did I prefer one thing over the other? There’s so many things like that. With breakfast, do you prefer milk or orange juice? How do you come to those preferences? Are you really the decision-maker in that? A lot of things go into that. It could be genetics. How you grew up. What your parents told you. All these events that led up to you in the moment making a decision or having a preference that you really had no control over.
Who has fought you the hardest on this all?
Laird: Almost everybody. I’ve only had one person say, “Yeah, that makes sense.” Because everybody wants to believe they’re the owner of their own success.
So you’re thinking it’s narcissism to an extent?
Laird: It’s ego, yeah. There’s a deeper philosophical argument: The illusion of a self. Which I could not explain or argue. If you do enough Vipassana meditation, that’s supposed to be the arrival where you get to that point like, “Oh, I’m not really a self. I’m just a conscious being observing what’s happening.” But the logic of it makes sense to me.
I feel like there’s a higher power giving us this free will in our flesh and bones to make decisions. I’ve made good decisions. I’ve made bad decisions.
Laird: Didn’t St. Thomas Aquinas write about free will? And the ethics of why that’s central. I remember learning about free will in my religion classes growing up. There was a Catholic writer: “This is why God gave us these choices, and that’s where ethics and morals come from.” … I’d love to have an argument given to me that would prove me otherwise because then I could be more proud of any success I have. That’s why I say “lucky” and “fortunate” a lot. That’s what I truly believe. I believe I was born into the right family, born in the United States, born in a situation where I was able to pursue what I enjoy. I was able to walk on at Cal because my parents could help me financially.
But you’re not magically throwing around weights in a weight room.
Laird: I believe work ethic is also inheritable. Work ethic has a lot to do with your environment.
You don’t think someone could have a poor work ethic and then get a good work ethic?
Laird: No, I believe that’s possible, too. I’m just saying I was lucky to have a Mom and Dad who worked hard. An older brother who worked hard. Another funny story from today. We watched “Rocky” movie highlights when he beat Ivan Drago in “Rocky 4.” I was thinking about that. I used to watch the four Rockys all the time growing up. Part of my work ethic is just my Mom and Dad watching “Rocky” and I’d watch it with them. I saw him go from this no-name boxer to the world’s best because he worked his ass off. So then I idolized working my ass off. I worked my ass off to become good in football. Is it because I watched those Rocky movies? Is it because I watched my Dad work hard growing up? I didn’t have control over experiencing those things. So, I’m just lucky that I ended up developing a hard work ethic. But that doesn’t mean that somebody who hasn’t worked hard the first 30 years of their life can’t all of a sudden become a hard worker. Something happens, and then they become a hard-working person. I think you should live life as if you’re the agent of your own actions.
I feel the same way watching my Dad work hard, start his own business, sacrifice everything on his belief, his skill that he had as a petroleum geologist. We saw that as his three kids. And my Mom worked her ass off. That became us. But even then, my Dad learned that trait from his Dad, his Mom. And they learned. My grandfather broke that wheel in our family.
Laird: Does your grandpa have siblings? Did they do the same thing?
Some did. Some didn’t.
Laird: That’s the example people use. There was this person in poverty. Had the worst upbringing. And then they made it. They worked hard, they busted their ass, they went to college. But there’s someone with a very similar story who went the other way. Why did that guy go the right way and why did that guy go the wrong way?